Celebrate Your Child!

Apr 30, 2009

7 ways to raise a money-smart kid

"Kids are constantly being bombarded with messages to spend money, and we need to counteract that," says Sam Renick, financial consultant and children's author. "The earlier kids start developing good money habits, the better."

The good news? Teaching your child how to handle money is simpler – and more fun – than it sounds. Here are seven tricks to turn money lessons from a fight into a delight :

1. Hand your preschooler a buck.

Just because a child can't change a dollar yet doesn't mean she shouldn't experience the dollar itself. Exposing children to money sets the groundwork for financial literacy in the same way that reading out loud to them sets the groundwork for literacy.

In the preschool years, some hands-on experience is enough. Preschoolers learn best when they can actually hold what they're learning about. So get over any germophobia around coins and bills and let your 3-year-old hand a fiver to the cashier. Let your 4-year-old help you drop spare change into a savings jar. Pretend games like "store" or "bank" are also a fun way for preschoolers to grasp that money buys things.

And don't stress if she confuses a penny with a dime or if you catch her using a stack of play money for a doll bed. At this age, it's all good.

2. Dispose of "disposable thinking."

From broken toys to outdated TVs, almost everything gets tossed in our culture. By teaching your child the value of things, you set a cornerstone of financial literacy. "Kids can learn that possessions deserve our care. If your child throws a book, explain that throwing books can damage them, and that treating them gently helps them last a long time," says elementary teacher Laura Gerrity.

If something does break and your child cavalierly says, "It's okay, we can just get another one," take advantage of the teachable moment. Gently explain that replacing it would cost money, and that you'll need to decide whether spending that money is a good idea. This may lead into an interesting discussion of all the other things that cost money, such as food, rent, and gas.

When your child outgrows some clothes, ask her to help you wash and fold them so they can be passed along to a smaller neighborhood kid or to a family shelter. Shifting from a "break it, chuck it, replace it" attitude to a "waste not" attitude can help even young children build a foundation for sound money habits.

3. Encourage delayed gratification.

"I want it now!" How many times have you heard that – this week? Kids by nature want immediate gratification, but learning to wait is vital. "The ability to hold off, to not have to have something right away, is a building block for when kids eventually do understand money," says Jerlean Daniel, deputy executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Learning to wait can be taught even to kids who aren't using money yet. If your child requests a glass of milk while you're sweeping the floor, don't immediately put the broom aside. Explain that you'll get it when you finish. If she requests yet another princess outfit (even though she already has several), suggest that she put it on her birthday "wish list." "Creating opportunities for delayed gratification is one of the best gifts parents can give their children," says Sharon Lechter, coauthor of Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money.

Around age 5, kids can start practicing with money itself. "Start with a short waiting period," advises Laura Busque, Outreach Manager for the Ohio Credit Union League. "For example, help your 5-year-old save up for a Popsicle or piece of candy. Give her a quarter and explain that next week you'll give her another one, and that you can then go out and get the treat." Alternatively, you can have her earn the money by doing an extra chore.

As your child gets older, her capacity for waiting will increase. When your grade-schooler requests a new gadget, tell her that she can't have it right now but she can save up for it if she really wants it, and help her plan how to save the money. You'll probably hear more whining up front, but your child will get a boost of self-esteem when she does manage to get what she wants on her own.

Teach YOUR Children About Money

4. Table the taboo.

Some feel it's inappropriate to discuss money with children, but experts say kids benefit from being in on the discussion. Otherwise, they may develop misperceptions like thinking that a debit card never runs out of money or that if you break something, hey, you just go get another one. "You don't have to be afraid to share money concepts with your kids – even if you're having financial challenges," says Lechter. "Think of it as a chance for the whole family to learn new skills together."

Day to day, this can be as simple as talking out loud. "While withdrawing money from the ATM, you could say, 'I put money in the bank earlier, and now I'm getting some of it back out,'" says Philip Heckman, director of youth programs for the Credit Union National Association. "This conveys that money doesn't come out of nothing."

When out shopping, explain your thought process: "If I buy this beautiful tablecloth, I won't be able to pay for gas for the week. Gas is more important than the tablecloth, so I guess I'll have to skip the tablecloth." These kinds of comments show that there are times when the best spending decision is not spending.

But keep things cool and casual, and don't push the point. "Many brief explanations work better than a few, long money lectures," Heckman explains.

5. Be a role model.

What you do will have a much greater effect on your kids than what you say. If you want your child to learn to save, make sure you're saving some money yourself – and that your child knows you do it. If you want her to learn the value of generosity, consider: Are you donating to charity or volunteering your time for a cause? Involve your child in these activities, too.

6. Let them practice.

Learning good money management takes practice. So invest in a little play money (or make some!) for your preschooler so that she can play "store" with you, and consider giving your big kid an allowance.

Piggy banks are a good idea, even for kids who don't have an allowance yet. Your 5-year-old may surprise you by finding a "lucky penny" and immediately dropping it in her bank. Even if she doesn't understand the concept of saving for a goal, she's practicing saving – and that's a great start.

7. Skip the lecture – tell a story instead.

Give a lecture on responsible spending, and you'll get a glassy-eyed stare. But tell a story about a boy who must decide between buying lunch and buying a new action figure, and you'll likely get rapt attention. "When I use stories and music to break down the concepts, the kids really get it," says Renick. Here are some books for 4- to 8-year-olds to get you started:

A Chair for My Mother, Vera B. Williams

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Judith Viorst

Can I Have Some Money? Max Gets It, Candi Sparks

Can I Have Some Money Please? Twyla Prindle

It's a Habit, Sammy Rabbit! Sam X Renick

Lucky the Golden Goose, John Wrenn

Apr 25, 2009

Giving kids an allowance (I)

Why an allowance?

To learn to ride a bike, you need a bike. And to learn to manage money, you need … a little money. By practicing with their own money, children get to try out concepts – saving for a rainy day, prioritizing goals, and delayed gratification – that might otherwise seem abstract or irrelevant.

Allowances give kids room to make mistakes in a low-risk environment – sort of like learning to drive in an empty parking lot. If your 8-year-old can't go to the movies with a friend's family because he burned through all his allowance buying action figures, he may be more likely to plan ahead when he gets next week's allowance.

Think of it this way : Teach your child the pitfalls of impulse buying early on, and he's less likely to arrive on your doorstep years from now with a duffel bag full of dirty laundry and a mountain of credit card debt.

What's a good age to start?

Around age 5 or 6 is typical. But some parents start in the preschool years, while others wait until age 10 or older. There's no magic starting time, says Kristan Leatherman, coauthor of Millionaire Babies or Bankrupt Brats? Love and Logic Solutions to Teaching Kids about Money. "The best time is when your child begins to understand that money can buy him things he wants."

So if your child tends to shrug at money, losing it before it can find its way to his dusty piggy bank, hold off until you see signs that he enjoys saving it or thinking about how he might use it.

How much is reasonable?

Consider your family's financial resources, the cost of daily living in your area, and your own comfort level. "I've seen it all over the place," says credit union market manager Mark Hodowanic. "While there might be some general rules of thumb, it’s up to your family to decide what's best."

Many families like to use a formula corresponding to age, such as 50 cents or a dollar per week for each year of a child's life ($3.50 or $7 for a 7-year-old, $4 or $8 for an 8-year-old). A formula has certain advantages over a flat amount, says Leatherman. "The kids get an automatic raise on their birthdays, so it takes away the question of when to increase the allowance," she explains. "And it cuts out sibling arguments, because the younger kid can understand why the older kid gets more."

While many families give allowance weekly, others do it biweekly or monthly. The important thing is consistency. Set up a system to help you remember, so you have the right change and to avoid nagging reminders from your child. On the other hand, don't feel stuck – if your current arrangement simply isn't working, you can always sit down with your child and come up with a different plan.

Apr 23, 2009

Kids and Money: What to Expect and When

When will your child understand that money is earned – not waiting in infinite supply at the ATM? And when, oh when, will she realize that she doesn't "need" that glittery tiara in the same sense that she needs a warm jacket? We tapped the fiscal and educational experts to give you some idea about what to expect year to year as your child learns about the world of dollars and cents.

Your 2-year-old

Give a 2-year-old a quarter, and she's as likely to drop it down the air vent as to put it in a piggy bank. She doesn't yet understand that the shiny circles in Mommy's purse are worth more than a jelly bean or a big acorn. "Money is a concrete representation of an abstract idea, and 2-year-olds don't have the representational thought to understand that," explains preschool director Megan Hans.

However, your little one can understand the most concrete definition of money – that "money" means dollars and coins – and she can learn that it's something we use at the store. She may enjoy hearing you say the names of the coins and repeating these words herself. And she probably loves sliding play dollars into a toy cash register or pennies into a piggy bank.

Just never let her handle coins unsupervised – they're one of the biggest choking hazards around. That means keeping your purse out of reach, too, until she's old enough to be trusted not to pop spare change into her mouth.

Your 3-year-old

Some 3-year-olds can begin identifying coins by type – if they've had enough exposure, says Jerlean Daniel, deputy executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

And as representational thought develops and a child witnesses more cash transactions, she begins to grasp that money has some value. Give your 3-year-old a quarter, and she may understand that she can "buy" a treat – but she may still be bewildered when the cashier doesn't give the quarter back.

Your 4-year-old

Many 4-year-olds can understand the "trade aspect" of money, so they know they won't get a coin back after handing it to a cashier. But give your 4-year-old that quarter, and you may hear her planning to buy a jungle gym with it. Most 4-year-olds can't comprehend the magnitude of price differences. "But they're starting to grasp that a quarter is worth something different than a nickel," says Laura Busque, outreach manager for the Ohio Credit Union League and a former teacher.

Many 4-year-olds can appreciate that money comes from a job and that pay is limited. They can also understand that some people have less money than others and that those with more can help those with less.

Your 5-year-old

At 5, your child will probably begin developing a slightly more realistic idea of money –many parents even start a small allowance around this age.

So if you explain that $10 will buy a set of art supplies, while a quarter will only buy a piece of candy, your child will be more likely to accept this. But it doesn't mean she'll want to save up for those art supplies; she'll probably opt for the candy. Kinder­gartners are still very invested in the present moment.

Still, a piggy bank is a good idea, because 5-year-olds can understand that money belongs in a safe place. In one way, your child's focus on the present can work to her benefit; after the quarter clangs into the piggy bank, she may forget all about it.

Your 6-year-old

The concept of "saving up" will make more sense at this age. But because the future is still a murky concept, shorter-term savings goals will be easier to grasp. So hand your budding money manager that quarter, and she might deposit it in her piggy bank for a couple of days, sweet-talk another quarter from Grandpa, and immediately buy a pack of gum.

During the first-grade school year, many children start learning how to count by fives and tens, so they'll be able to add up nickels and dimes. And at 6, your child will likely get the difference between a "want" and a "need," says elementary school teacher Laura Gerrity.

Your 7-year-old

Your child is starting to appreciate that she has choices when it comes to money. Give her a quarter, and you may see the wheels spinning as she weighs putting it into the piggy bank versus popping it into the nearest gumball machine. She's also bound to realize by now that a quarter isn't much to get excited about!

Budding math skills enable many second graders to add combinations of nickels, dimes, and quarters together.

Your 8-year-old

"By age 7 or 8, children will have a good notion of what the real value of a quarter is. They'll know that it's five fives, or 25 ones," says Daniel. So the gift of a quarter may inspire a jaded eye-roll rather than bouncing glee.

But the good news is that your 8-year-old is getting better at "delayed gratification." She also has a better grasp of the future. So longer-term savings goals are much more feasible at this age. If your child has been exposed to the idea that "every little bit counts," she may piggy bank the quarter with a sense of satisfaction that she's a little closer to buying that scooter.

What to do at home if your child is having behavior problems at school

Don't punish your child.

Children aren't to blame for having bad feelings, says Wipfler. "It's not something they asked for. Your child isn't bad, and you're not bad for having a child with a behavior problem; these things just happen." Punishment for bad behavior will only make your child feel terrible about himself and prolong the difficulty by further shutting down his thinking.

Think about what's going on in your child's life.

Is he dealing with a big, one-time event, like a divorce or a death in the family, or smaller stressors over the long term, like teasing from an older sibling or pressure from a critical parent? Criticism can sap a child's positive feelings about himself; teasing can leave him looking for someone smaller or younger to take it out on. If your whole family is weathering a trauma, your child may be trying to handle strong feelings on his own without adding to your burden. You may never know exactly what's at the root of his difficulty with school, but you don't need to know in order to help him.

Try talking.

Your child may be able to tell you straight out what's bothering him, or you may have to set up certain conditions first. Children talk to adults when they feel safe, loved, and close. You can give your child that sense of contact either by playing with him vigorously and generously, or by listening to him without judgment or interruption.

Your child may also be more willing to open up if you ask him a positive question first.

Someday when you're lying in the grass at the park, or out for a walk, or riding in the car without being in a hurry, ask in a relaxed tone, "If you could make school any way you wanted, what would it be like?" or "If you could make recess perfect, how would you change it?" You'll hear about what's hard at school, but you'll have bypassed the hopeless feelings that can make children reluctant to talk.

Let your child fall apart.

Children keep a lot inside but are always looking for ways to get their feelings out. You can help, says Wipfler, by being ready for "a tantrum, or a rage, or an insistence that something be done in a very particular way or his world will crash: 'You have to put butter on my mashed potatoes — it can't be margarine' or 'I will not turn off the TV.' Children will get very particular about a small thing because they have a little volcano of feelings inside that has nothing to do with what they're getting upset about. But it's the only way they know to address what they feel."

This won't be easy for you as a parent.

You may be every bit as cranky as your child at the moment he picks to fall apart, or you may be under a lot of pressure to get something done. But your child will benefit tremendously if you can go down on one knee, put an arm around him, and listen while he cries as long as he needs to. Your child may say things that are difficult to hear — criticism of you, perhaps, or revelations of difficulties you didn't know he was having. But if he can cry all the way through these feelings, using you as a target, your child will feel heard and understood and will be able to think better in situations that might otherwise throw him. The day after a big emotional release, his behavior in school (and with his friends and with you) will most likely be profoundly better.

Stay close to your child.

You can always help your child have a better day at school if you take time for closeness. Get up a bit earlier to carve out some relaxed time with your child as the day begins; a little bit of snuggling or playful cuddling in the morning can set him up for a better day. He'll go to school feeling more connected to you, and a little sturdier when he encounters a trigger that usually sets him off.

Play with your child.

Set up playtimes with your child so he can get some of the attention he's seeking by misbehaving at school; you may also get a better sense of what's on his mind. In his book Building Healthy Minds, Stanley Greenspan, a child psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at George Washington Medical School, advocates "floor time," or play, as a way to discover what's bothering a child. "When a child is misbehaving, pretend play can sometimes help reveal what's on his mind, why he's so angry and provocative."

Apr 8, 2009

Positive Kids TV

Laura Wellington was raising four children and didn't like their viewing options on TV. So, even though she had no background in the field, she created a television show with a positive message for kids: The Wumblers!

Apr 6, 2009

Benefits Of Homeschooling

Why let Tim and Lisa learn at home than send them to school? Well, first of all, you don't have to wake them up at 7 every morning and bundle them off to school with umpteen numbers of

homeschoolImage by foreversouls via Flickr

ctions, and wait with an anxious heart till they return. Homeschooling gives you more control over the influences that affect your child. The growth and development of your child is removed from the realm of the unknown. You, and you alone can decide what your child needs to do or learn. Tailoring the curriculum to suit the needs and interests of the child is one of the most obvious benefits of homeschooling.

Individual attention is another salient benefit of homeschooling. For instance, if Lisa needs more time to learn Math, then she can reduce the time for her English lessons. There are no fixed hours of learning per subject. This means that a child has the advantage of assigning more number of hours to the subject that seems tough WITHOUT any additional pressure. The amount of time needed to learn each subject will depend on the abilities and interests of the child.

The schooling of the child becomes an extended family activity. Parents get involved in every step of the learning procedure. Field trips and experiments become family activities. Thus,the child receives more quality time with his parents. The entire family shares games, chores and projects. Family closeness becomes the focus here. The child is also free of any negative peer pressure while making choices and decisions.

Competition is limited when it comes to homeschooling. The child does not need to prove his ability with regards to other children. His confidence remains intact. Since parents have a deep understanding of their child, they can plan the learning program to pique the child's interest. It is also possible to intersperse difficult tasks with fun activities. A tough hour with Algebra can be followed by a trip to the nearest museum. Learning becomes fun. Parents can also tailor the curriculum to suit the learning style of the child. Some children learn through reading, while others need to write, and still others need to see objects in action.

Homeschooling allows parents to take control over the moral and religious learning of the child. Parents have the flexibility to incorporate their beliefs and ideologies into the child's curriculum. There is no confusion in the child's mind either because there is no variation between what is being taught and what is being practiced.

Lastly, more and more parents are getting disillusioned with the public school system. They believe that their children are being pushed too hard or too little. Other worrying issues pertaining to discipline and ethics also make the school system less welcome. Many repudiate the educational philosophy of grouping children solely on the basis of their age. Some parents themselves have unhappy memories of their own public school experience that motivates them to opt for homeschooling when it comes to their own children.

Homeschooling is the best way to teach a child if you have the time, the ability and the interest to follow through with his education. After all, nobody can understand or appreciate your child more than yourself.

More details on Home-Schooling and it's reward, click HERE.

Apr 3, 2009

Daycares feeling the economic crunch

Early education specialists warn that the economic downturn could have negative effects on young children who are forced to skip out on day care centers.

Apr 2, 2009

Kids and Goal Setting, Why is it So Important?

This can be great fun, and can make a huge difference in their lives. Goal setting for kids books, worksheets and activities will all help you to introduce this idea to your children. It doesn't matter if you are a parent, teacher, grandparent or friend, if you can encourage the children in your life to start setting goals at an early age, you can have a profound affect on their lives.

Click here for Go for Your Goals

But why would you bother with this goal setting activity with kids?

* In today's information age, people are bombarded with so many choices, decisions and options. It's very easy to get sidetracked or to just "go with the flow."?

Learning how to set goals at an early age will give your child the tools needed to live a purposeful life. They will be able to make decisions that get them where they want to go instead of just reacting to whatever is in front of them at that moment.

* Most highly successful people are avid goal-setters.

Pick up any best-selling book from personal growth gurus and there will be a section dedicated to goal setting. These coaches don't consider goal setting an option; to them it's mandatory if you want to live an amazing life.

* When you take the time to sit down and totally focus on your child, you KNOW how much they love that.

This is about more than just Goal Setting, it is about saying how much you love them, and that you care enough about them and their future, that you are prepared to spend time working on it with them. You KNOW what an impact that will have with them. They will love Goal Setting, and feel so proud when they have written their first goal.

Click here for Go for Your Goals

* Setting goals can lead to profound feelings of happiness, purpose, confidence and self-worth.

Imagine your child being confident because they know that they have the ability to achieve whatever they want to achieve. Imagine how exciting the world would be to them!

Author's Biography :

Winsome Coutts holds a teacher’s certificate in education and has written hundreds of articles on self-development. She has studied with Bob Proctor and John Demartini, popular teachers featured on “The Secret” DVD. She is the passion behind the www.4lifehappykids.com and is a parent and grandparent.

Winsome is author of “Go for Your Goals” for kids – a set of downloadable e-books that guide your child through the joyful steps of learning visualization, goal-setting and the Law of Attraction. Simple language enhanced with beautiful illustrations and worksheets make these books appealing and motivating. To learn more, visit www.4lifehappykids.com

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